Mark Achbar is one of a wave of non-fiction feature filmmakers reaching large international audiences through mainstream theatres, TV, DVD, and the internet. After studying Film at Syracuse University, he worked on independent drama, documentaries, and books until he found his footing as the driving force behind the two most successful Canadian feature documentaries ever made. His five-year collaboration with Peter Wintonick resulted in MANUFACTURING CONSENT: Noam Chomsky and the Media (1992) and six years working with Joel Bakan and Jennifer Abbott gave us THE CORPORATION (2003). Both surprise box office hits, the two films won a total of 48 awards, among them 14 audience choice awards, including Sundance.
THE CORPORATION’s box office success triggered a Telefilm-financed “performance envelope” within the Canadian film-financing system, which set aside $2.4m for the exclusive use of Achbar’s production company. This thrust him into an unusual position; whereas previously he had to fundraise for several years to finance a film, he abruptly found himself controlling more production money than the budgets of some of the broadcasters he used to seek license fees from.
In his newfound role as Executive Producer, Achbar facilitated the development and production of more than a dozen feature documentaries. The completed films are: Sam Bozzo's BLUE GOLD: World Water Wars (2008); Velcrow Ripper's FIERCE LIGHT: When Spirit Meets Action (2008); Denis Delestrac's PAX AMERICANA and the Weaponization of Space (2009); Kevin McMahon's WATERLIFE (2009); Mathieu Roy's and Harold Crooks' SURVIVING PROGRESS (2011); Oliver Hockenhull's NEURONS TO NIRVANA (2013); Mark Grieco's MARMATO (2014); and Fiona Rayher's and Damien Gillis' FRACTURED LAND (2015). Still in production: Jonathan Corbiere’s SAPIENCE, Jill Sharpe’s SEX, BREATH, AND DEATH, Sean Devlin’s WHEN THE STORM FADES, and Malina Fagan’s THE COVERUP.
My overriding objective in making The Corporation and its sequel (in progress) was, and remains, to foster in viewers a critical distance on the corporations and the corporate culture that envelop us all. New perspectives on today’s dauntingly complex problems come from within as well as without, which is why The Corporation films strive to include the views of both critics and thoughtful leaders of big corporations who are working to advance significant value shifts while contending with challenging institutional constraints.
-- Mark Achbar